Achieving Martin Luther King's Dream: Are You Doing Your Part?

Today is Martin Luther King Day, when we look back on a courageous man and the movement for equality. Has King’s dream been realized? No, it hasn’t.

Interlocking fingers with my son.

Yes, we have a black president, and as monumental as that is, it doesn’t mean we’ve achieved his dream. We are much, much closer than we’ve ever been, but still not there. Not when we’ve got a justice system that unfairly metes out “justice” from racial profiling in arrests to sentencing laws that are ridiculously harsher on people of color than whites.

Not when my Hispanic friends who were born in this country are assumed to be undocumented.

Not when people in my new town of Portland make assumptions that I can’t afford something, that I’m a single mom or that the white man next to me can’t possibly be my husband.

But today, is a day that we honor King and what he stood for. In his “I Have A Dream” speech he said: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

And that’s true. Even though America is not where King would want it to be, it’s getting there. Just like the latest technological gadgets, we get better with each generation.

As parents, we’ve got to raise our kids to be open-minded citizens of the world. I’ve written before about conversations I’ve had with my son on race. This is the one that developed into a piece that won me a Voices of the Year honor, for which I’m forever grateful and for the thoughtful conversations it’s sparked.

My son and I continue to talk about race when it comes up, or if I spot an opportunity to widen his horizons. I don’t beat him over the head with it, but I do aim to raise self-awareness and give him confidence and understanding of who he is, a 6-year-old African-American, Norwegian football-loving plane enthusiast who hates doing his homework.

On this day, I’m hopeful that we are reminded that our work is not done. One of the greatest things we can do is to raise mindful children by acknowledging and respecting each other’s differences while showing through love and acceptance that we are all equal parts of the human race.

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